January 31st, 2007 05:10 EST
Joint Intelligence Operations Center Opens in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 30, 2007 – The Joint Intelligence Operations Center, a strategic and operational breakthrough in Afghanistan-Pakistan border security, officially opened here Jan. 25 during a ceremony at the headquarters of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force here.
The JIOC's debut publicly acknowledges ISAF's, Afghanistan's and Pakistan's resolve to cooperate closely to counter terrorism and insurgent activity along the two countries' shared southern and eastern border, officials said.
"This is a historic day … in the war on terror and against the insurgents," said British Army Gen. David Richards, ISAF commander, during the ceremony.
In the past, the primary venue for Afghan, Pakistan and ISAF military leaders to share information or collaborate on issues of joint concern with reference to the shared border between Pakistan and Afghanistan was through bimonthly meetings of the four-star level Tripartite Plenary Commission. Last November, the Military Intelligence Sharing Working Group, one of the commission's subcommittees, finalized the planning initiative to establish the JIOC and its concept of operations
Now, Afghan and Pakistani military officers will work side by side in one facility to support joint campaign planning for operations, intelligence, technical exchange of counter improvised explosive device information and information operations.
"The JIOC will facilitate critical and timely information needed by the Afghan National Army and Pakistan army units operating along the border to prevent and disrupt insurgent activity common in the eastern and southern areas of Afghanistan," said Maj. Andrew Zeigler, ISAF's government of Afghanistan intelligence representative and facilitator for intelligence sharing among the JIOC, ISAF and the Afghanistan-Pakistan entities
The JIOC is manned by six Pakistani and six Afghan liaison officers, as well as 12 ISAF staff officers. As members cooperate and collaborate on matters related to border security, the team will produce intelligence reports and distribute them to the intelligence community and as necessary, to other organizations also concerned with border security.
"We need everyone to understand that cooperation does not only rest within the JIOC, but between the citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the international community that is working toward security. This is just one small step in support of that end state," Zeigler said.
The JIOC is capable of 24-hour operations and is located within a secure working area inside the Headquarters ISAF encampment. Personnel share common work stations and also have access to private planning rooms.
"In the short time they've been here, the Pakistanis have been cooperating and communicating well with the Afghans, as well as integrating themselves within the ISAF community," Zeigler said.
Despite their differing languages, the team has yet to experience major language problems.
"It's a benefit that the Pakistani officers speak English, as well as Dari and Pashtu, Afghanistan's official languages, and that we have translators who help us communicate with the Afghan officers," Zeigler said.
As for the JIOC's extensive communication network, more than $100,000 worth of communications and information systems equipment is enabling the intelligence mission. There are several secure communications networks, and additional capabilities will be implemented as the mission expands.
"It's been really rewarding to get the JIOC off the ground and to have a direct role in enabling the future stability of these countries and the ISAF mission," 1st Lt. Stacie Hartert, CIS control center engineer, who planned and implemented the JIOC's communications capabilities, said.
Hartert and her team equipped the facility with its own secure network that enables the Afghan, Pakistani and ISAF officers to liaise with each other, as well as exchange information with their respective countries.
"Trust is the focus; we have to support one another in our efforts to ensure stability, security and cooperation between both countries," Zeigler said. "Without it our efforts will be fruitless. At this point, I'm very optimistic about the prospects toward stabilization and security as a result of everyone's efforts."
ISAF is made up of more than 35,000 troops from 37 nations. Its primary role is to support and assist the government of Afghanistan in providing and maintaining a secure environment to help in the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
(Air Force Capt. Stacie Shafran is assigned to International Security Assistance Force Headquarters.)
By Capt. Stacie Shafran, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service